Admit it. You’ve thought about it. Every so often, you look at the Dallas Cowboys and think to yourself, "If I were running this team, things would be different. I would draft better, get a better coach and coordinators and lure the right Free Agents to play for us. Yeah, we would be awesome!!! In the face of what looks to be one of the most epic collapses in NFL history for a pre-season Super Bowl favorite, the time seems right to dream a little dream.
But this is not an easy fix. The team is doing exactly what it has always done under Jerry (save for the Jimmy years) and practiced and prepared and played like anointed royalty. They drank their own bath water. They believed their own pre-season press clippings. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. They forgot history. They repeated it. They underperformed. That doesn’t suggest that a single roster upgrade or a replacement of a coach or coordinator can turn this thing around. In fact, one would say this team has some sort of viral disease that is keeping it from gaining the mental toughness to handle adversity and pull together to raise their intensity and focus.
I, for one, am not going to sit on my hands anymore. I’m taking my shot.
This past week, I bellied up to the bar with Jerrah and we shared a bunch of single malts (He’s a Glenmorangie guy). We talked football for hours. We were having a really good time commiserating about the cowboys' woes and then, maybe in a weak moment, he pulled a Tony Stark on me and said the craziest thing; "5blings, I’m tarred. So, I want you to run it. You be the GM. You run the whole danged thang!"
Well, I was feeling all woozy (not really) and was left speechless. He waived his finger at one of his assistants and about fifteen minutes and 3 Irish Car Bombs (nasty drinks…loved them) later, I was signing papers that made me THE singular arbiter of all decisions Cowboys. Well, you’ll be glad to know I’ve wasted no time and put together a recovery plan.
Here’s how I’ve decided to remake this Cowboys franchise.
First things first. I hire a new Director of College Scouting because Tom Ciskowski needs to be let go because he sucks. He’s been a fine soldier, but his misses have been too many and too frequent to allow him to continue on with us. "Cisky, I know you want to take credit for 2008 and how people thought it might be a great draft in a sea of crappy ones for other teams, but the overall track record is one of failure. I wish you much success in your future endeavors. I did, however, get you an interview with Dan Snyder and he’s looking forward to your call. Your belongings have been packed for you and Mr. Smith here will see you out".
Replacement candidates: anyone from the Ozzie Newsome/Jerry Reese tree of senior scouts. It has to be someone with an eye for linemen and who can bring a new vision to the scouting department. after all, look what good scouting has done for the Rangers.
I know this is shocking, but Winnie has to go. As a head coach, he sucks. He’s a brilliant defensive mind, despite what you might think after the Giants debacle, but he’s not the sideline LEADER that this team is missing. The next coach can’t be past his prime like Parcells and he can’t be a pansy like Fatty McFatterson (picked that one up on the thread last week and it still makes me laugh). I think Wade is a good man. I think he is an honorable man. He’s someone I would love to sit down and talk football with during the family barbeque. However, I don’t think Wade is the RIGHT MAN to coach this team and I’ve said that since the day they hired him (after Garrett). Dick LeBeau, Monte Kiffin, Jim Johnson, Jim Haslett, Dom Capers and Mike Nolan have all proven themselves to be great defensive minds, but they don’t have the chromosomal makeup of a Head Coach in the National Football League. It’s not a slanderous statement. It’s a statement of fact. It doesn’t devalue the man, it re-values him properly. Some new head coach next year is going to have a staff with Wade and Norv as their DC an OC, respectively, and they are going to be a heckuva staff. "Wade, you (and your daughter) are certainly welcome at the family barbeque, but I need a guy here who doesn’t suck and can set a different tone". Wade responds, "but 5Blings, I can change, I can be hard on ‘em players and gettum playin’ smarter!" I look up from my desk and see him still standing there with THAT LOOK on his face again, "WHY are you STILL here?!?!"
Candidates I would interview: Jim Harbaugh (my #1candidate…really like his energy level), Jon Gruden and Russ Grimm. Unlike many, I’m not a Bill Cowher fan only because he stuck with Krydell Stewart for wayyyyy too long, but I would interview him for kicks.
Next, RHG (Red Headed Goof) gets clipped…mainly because he sucks. He’s a promising young coach, but the window for teams to win when they have a QB that could deliver a bling is short. Jason’s inability to get his unit playing with any sort of rhythm or identity since he arrived as the OC in Dallas is simply inexcusable. The Dallas offense (even sans Flozell) is still one of THE most penalized offenses in football. I’m sorry, but when receivers run the wrong routes, time outs get used because of play-calling confusion and our offense becomes so predictable that the opposing defensive coordinator’s 5-year old son can tell whether we’re running or passing (this just in: it’s more than likely going to be passing 80% of the time) on any given down is just too much to take. Jason, at this point in his development, would make a great collegiate Head Coach and we might be keeping him from reaching his full potential. I always want to know if candidates have done their homework prior to the interview. One interview question would be – "would you go to a 3-wide base offense next year?" If any of them say yes, the new HC and I would have to consider them. If not, then they’d have to explain how we get our best players on the field.
Possible replacements: David Lee (my #1 candidate), Pat Shurmur, Dana Bible and others.
Well, I fired the DC when I fired Winnie (who the heck set that up in such a cockeyed way? Oh, yeah…sorry Jerry), so I need a new one. I don’t want to stray too far from the 3-4 since we’ve spent the last 6 seasons creating the right LB corps to help get us there (seriously…how many LB’s can one team draft at the expense of their O-line and safety spots?!?!?) so I look to the Dick LeBeau lineage and then look at a fiery presence to instill accountability and aggressiveness on that side of the ball.
Candidates: Keith Butler from the Steelers, Mike Singletary and others.
Assistants I would have escorted off of the Valley Ranch property: Houck, Campo, Wade Wilson, Juraszek and anyone else that has ties to the Jimmy, Tuna or McFatterson eras (or has sucked). Joe D needs to interview again, but his job is open.
One note – all coordinators and assistants would need to be hired by the Head Coach. I would maintain veto power (so that we don’t hire any that suck), but I’d tend to go with who they wanted to work with. This is a critical requirement in the 5Blings hierarchy.
Okay now that we’ve cleaned house in the administration building, let’s look at the locker room.
Right out of the gate, I’m putting the following players on the trading block;
All of our CB’s
I’m letting go of Marcus Spears, Igor, Bowen, Hatcher, Jason Williams, Leon and Brandon Williams and anyone else I can find who hasn’t played up to their draft slot or price tag. Why keep players that suck?
Now, I thought about trading Witten quite a bit, but I couldn’t bring myself to let the heart and soul of this team go play somewhere else. Fans have to be able to keep some connectivity to the players and he’s the ONLY guy I wouldn’t trade.
Let’s assume I get a 3rd for Choice. I get a 4th for Bigg (Sloww) or Gurode (Dumm) and I get a 3rd or 4th for Bennett (Dooff). Let’s also assume I get a 6th from the Crayton deal.
Maybe that is optimistic thinking on my part but keep in mind it’s MY post. That’s a slug of picks to help me move up, down and around the draft. In prioritizing the holes on the team, I would look at O-line and Safety. Finding 2 new O-linemen (preferably OT and Center) in the draft and an OG in Free agency would be a good start. The Niners remade their O-line in 2 years and so did the Jets. We need to do the same. LET ME BE CLEAR: next year’s draft would be heavy on offensive linemen. Now if Luck, Locker and Mallett are all there, I may not be able to pass up on a franchise QB given that Romo is 30 and hasn’t proven that he can lead the team to the bling, but I’m still drafting O-line and safety early and often. Know this; if I planned to take a QB #1, I would trade Tony before the draft. what would I get for him? Now I am not going to spend much time on WHO I WOULD draft because the draft doesn’t work like that. You have to take the best players available given what your needs are. Lots can happen between now and April and probably will.
I likely look to Free Agency (CBA notwithstanding) to find a FS who can help us short term. Sensei stays put…for the moment.
I find, via draft or FA, a big-body NT to rotate with Ratliff so I can put him at DE (at least on obvious passing downs) so we can extend his playing career and keep him fresher as games wear on. As I have been saying for some time now, he’s beginning to wear down earlier and earlier in games. In fact, I think my prediction that he would eventually become ineffective in his role as NT was just one year too early is all.
I would set a new tone for this organization in terms of how we conduct ourselves. I’d return the Cowboys to a very business-like approach in how we operate. No more big contracts after only one year of production or for role players too late in their career. Our coach would have to make sure that practices would be the hardest hitting and most structured in the league. No more acting like idiots in the end zone. No more of this task cohesion or goal collision BS. I would be the unquestioned leader of the organization and my coach would have full control of the team on the field and in the locker room. I would not be seen anywhere outside of the luxury box on game day and there would be a clear definition of everyone’s roles and responsibilities. We’d look to attain players with athleticism but also those we think can represent the franchise well off the field (I want every fan’s children to fondly remember the players when they grow up and have money to spend on jerseys, mugs and hoodies). Our goal would be to become the toughest, most physical and disciplined team in the NFL. We’d make lots of changes to the way we practice. There would be a ton of tackling and we would learn to manage the clock and our timeouts as though they were our own life’s blood. There would be no more saving our vets in preseason or Hard Knocks or split camps. I’d have our camp in the hottest most, God-forsaken place I could find. Lastly, I would make sure this team understood that individual egos would not be accepted and that they all rallied around a single cause; the common goal of winning a Bling. I’d build a team, regardless of the results, that our fans could be proud of for their effort and their execution.
Whew! That’s a lot of moving parts to address!
Okay, now it’s YOUR turn.
You’re the Owner and GM of this team. It’s a leaky boat and it needs fixing. What would you do?